As the title says...
Zub | Forks Twp., PA | 02/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For about a decade during the sixties, the Fireballs, with and without Jimmy Gilmer, intermittently had chart successes with a variety of tunes, both vocal and instrumental. This new collection of their recordings from the top-notch Ace label in the U.K., produces what it says - a definitive collection of their music. Ace and other domestic labels (Varese and Sundazed) have made the Fireballs' music available for some time but this is the first truly comprehensive collection. Here are all eleven of their pop-charting singles culled from the many labels on which the Fireballs were to appear over their charting lifetime. While some popular groups of the era had a very identifiable sound with an initial success on the charts, they were often stuck with a sound that, once unique and fresh, quickly became old-hat and delegated them to one-hit wonder status. The Fireballs were anything but predictable. They didn't even stick to one format in that they had both instrumental and vocal singles make the charts. Changes in personnel and labels also contributed to the variety of their output. While well-established by 1963, it was the Keith McCormack of the String-A-Longs' tune "Sugar Shack" that put the Fireballs square on the top of the pop charts. So different from their previous instrumental successes, and with Jimmy Gilmer's name now on the marquis, many listeners did not even realize that this was the same Fireballs group. But, as with so many other pop groups their follow-up recordings were in fact too similar, and in the face of the British invasion sales rapidly declined with these subsequent releases. Although they continued releasing tunes for the next three years, chart-wise their music languished until 1967 when, with a reinvented style they bounced back into the top-10 with the raucous "Bottle of Wine" on Atco. Again switching styles, the introspective and tuneful followup release "Goin' Away" did not fare as well and may have been too much of a departure for the musical styles of the era. Two more minor hits followed until the Fireballs decade-long life on the hit charts ended. This collection is by far the best and most complete compendium of the Fireballs' music, both in quanity and quality. The new mastering and previously unavailable stereo mixes, a very generous 30 tracks, a widely illustrated 16-page liner notes booklet and Ace's attention to detail all contribute to the outstanding quality of this piece. Thirteen (5,17-21,23,25-30) of the tracks are in stereo with the remainder in mono including "Sugar Shack", "Daisy Petal Pickin'" and "Ain't Gonna Tell Anybody", which often appear in their faux stereo versions on other CD's. For the devoted Fireballs fan there are many individual album and compilation CD's available, but for the best start-to-finish overview of their music, this is the one to buy."